At first reaction, this supposition may appear ludicrous. After all, teachers are supposed to support victims of bullying and stamp out this evil practice wherever it rears its ugly head. However, while they may not intend to encourage bullying, (I have never heard a teacher tell pupils to bully another) but sometimes their actions or lack of action may actually encourage it. I know it to be true, I experienced this personally back in my youth.
It started when I moved to a new school early in fifth grade. The class teacher was very old fashioned and had little patience for someone like me who displayed Asperger’s like tendencies. I was expected to fit into the programme straight away and it never occurred to her that this instant baptism by fire would have disastrous effects. It only got worse after she moved me to the very front of the class, I’m talking up against the blackboard, so she couldn’t see me. Then there was the box. I was put into a large box, normally used for punishment back then but the teacher thought it would help my learning. I think it was so she couldn’t see me.
True, my condition made me a target for bullies to begin with but the other children in the class quickly picked up on the fact that I seemed to be the teacher’s punching bag. They drew great sense of amusement whenever the teacher had a go at me about anything. Of course the teacher loved to point out my mistakes to the rest of the class thus humiliating me further. Therefore, I theorize that many of the children in the class who bullied me thought they had the full support of the teacher in doing so. Come to think of it, except for one major incident, most of the time any bullying reporter to her was only sanctioned with a slap on the wrist, (not literally of course.) What made it worse was the fact that there were three or four other pupils who had behaviour problems, which she addressed accordingly. However, they were never subjected to the teasing I always got when the teacher had a go at me for something non behaviour related. I am not saying the teacher’s treatment of me caused the bullying but it certainly poured oil on the flames. It was no wonder why fifth grade was such hell for me.
Sixth grade wasn’t too bad although the bullying continued. Seventh grade was just as hellacious as fifth grade, worse in one respect. I had two teachers who seemed to have it in for me and while individually they weren’t nearly as bad as my fifth grade teacher, it was bad enough. My maths teacher patronised me for not understanding percentages or when I failed to hand in homework when my book got stolen and the science teacher loved to remind me to get back on task whenever I drifted off, which was an easy thing to do when you have DAMP. Needless to say, the bullying increased many fold. It was almost a miracle that I managed to pass the year with straight C’s.
There was one instance where non action also encouraged bullying and it’s stereotypical. When I went out for basketball in seventh grade, I was doing suicide drills with the eighth graders standing near by. They interfered with my participation in the drill by tripping me and pushing me against the wall. However, when I told the basketball coach who was also the science teacher, he shrugged it off telling me not to worry about it. This gives further weight to the belief that jocks in schools get away with bullying because those who coach them won’t do anything.
My conclusion is that the teachers didn’t openly encourage me to be bullied back then but the way they handled some things in regards to me encouraged many of my bullies to do so. Now someone may be reading this and give the cop out excuse that it was handled back then, forty years ago but that doesn’t make it right and I still bear the emotional scars from it. My next posts will highlight such instances outlined in my book “He Was Weird” as well as other books I have read on the subject starting with the most known one by Jodi Picoult.
To buy He Was Weird, go to http://www.amazon.co.uk/He-Was-Weird-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1909740942/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1411499217&sr=1-1&keywords=he+was+weird